Union protests in Madison, Wisconsin over Gov. Scott Walker's Budget Repair Bill

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Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, whose "Budget Repair Bill" has sparked union protests in Madison, Wisconsin
Union protests in Madison, Wisconsin over Gov. Scott Walker's Budget Repair Bill began at the state capitol in Madison, Wisconsin on Tuesday, February 15.[1]

The protests began in advance of the approval of Assembly Bill 11, and escalated after it was approved by the Wisconsin State Legislature's Joint Finance Committee late on Wednesday, February 16, 2011 to help ease the state's $3.6 billion deficit.[2] The bill attempts to chip away at the deficit by dealing with state finances, and limiting collective bargaining rights, compensation and fringe benefits of public employees. [3]

School closings

On Wednesday, February 16, the Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC), the state's largest union for teachers, called on all 98,000 of its members to attend protests in Madison on Thursday and Friday. This led to schools around the state having to close on those days.[4]

School districts that were unable to hold classes because of missing teachers included:

  • Middleton-Cross Plains
  • Wisconsin Dells
  • Madison East, Madison West, Madison Memorial
  • Glendale-River Hills
  • Watertown
  • Beaver Dam

Democratic senators flee state

In light of an almost certain Republican victory in the Wisconsin State Senate on Assembly Bill 11, all 14 Democratic senators fled the state of Wisconsin on Thursday, February 17, leaving the 19 Republicans one vote shy of a quorum. Ted Blazel, the Senate Sergeant at Arms, went looking for the missing legislators, but to no avail. Reports later confirmed the senators fled to a resort in Rockford, Illinois. [5] State police were dispatched to retrieve the senators, but are unable to do so because of their inability to cross state lines. [6]

The 14 state senators who left the state are being described as the "Badger 14". They are Tim Carpenter, Lena Taylor, Spencer Coggs, Chris Larson, Jim Holperin, Tim Cullen, Mark Miller, Robert Wirch, Julie Lassa, Robert Jauch, Fred Risser, Jon Erpenbach, Dave Hansen and Kathleen Vinehout.[7]


  • The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel's editorial board decried the flight of the Badger 14, saying, "Democrats in the state Senate threw a temper tantrum Thursday - essentially they took their ball and went home. Actually, they didn't go home. They apparently went to Illinois, just out of reach of their obligations...Both Senate Democrats and teachers should get over their snits and get back to work."[8]

Crowd estimates

Day Estimated crowd size (outside capitol) Estimated crowd size (inside capitol)
Tuesday, February 15 10,000 2,000
Wednesday, February 16
Thursday, February 17 20,000 5,000
Friday, February 18

External links